The Pakistan Muslim League-Q - from Musharraf backers to PPP ally
The Pakistan Muslim League-Q was kicked out of office in the 2008 election, weakened by association with military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. But it was soon back in the corridors of power, as a junior partner in Asif Ali Zardari’s government. It’s fighting this election as an ally of Zardari’s PPP. Can it pull off a wheeler-dealer's hat-trick?
To distinguish itself from the PML-N while hanging on to the name of the party of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, it added Quaid e Azam Group to its title, Quaid e Azam (Great Leader) being a respectful reference to Jinnah.
Despite its support for the coup, the PML-Q defined itself as less right-wing than the PML-N on economic policy and more strongly opposed to the Islamist parties.
With a little help from Musharraf and the military, the party won 126 of the 347 seats in parliament in the 2002 election, going on to be the general’s main political point of support and providing the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz.
Musharraf’s fall was bad news for the PML-Q but not quite as bad as it might have been.
In the 2008 election it managed to hang on to 49 seats, mainly in rural constituencies, leaving it a small minority in parliament.
But, when Nawaz Sharif stormed out of the PPP-led coalition, the PML-Q was back in governmental business, taking cabinet seats in 2011 and incidentally breaking up a short-lived fusion with another PML (F this time).
The party threatened to quit the government as the election approached, citing its inability to stop regular power cuts as the reason.
That hasn’t prevented it from being the PPP’s only electoral ally in the 2013 vote, leaving Musharraf, who returned from exile for the election, to found his own party, the All Pakistan Muslim League.